House chairman gives resignation after health insurance fracas

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AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers were assessing the political damage Friday from a late-night blowup over health insurance reform that prompted the Republican chairman of the powerful budget-writing committee to submit his resignation and has left Democrats fuming.

Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker Robert Nutting hours after a contentious meeting in which Democrats accused GOP leaders of attempting to ramrod a major policy issue through the Legislature and warned that the political moves could endanger the entire budget-writing process.

“He submitted a letter of resignation to me as chair. I have not accepted his resignation,” Nutting said Friday evening. “There will be a series of conversations this weekend and then we will be back in session on Monday. Appropriations will reconvene to continue their work on the budget.”

On Thursday, House lawmakers voted largely along party lines to pass a major overhaul of Maine’s health insurance policies that Republicans insist will lower rates through competition but Democrats warn could devastate health care in rural Maine. But the issue became even more divisive late Thursday when GOP leaders moved to exempt the bill, LD 1333, from review by the Appropriations Committee in order to keep the bill moving through the Legislature.

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Reprinted with permission from the Bangor Daily News.

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